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April 28 2010 FEA Pacific Update

APRIL 28, 2010
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director


· Area Director Update
· Upcoming AD Activities
· Elections
· FEA Annual Meeting NEA RA
· Retroactive Pay and New Salary Scale
· Recent MOUs
· Legal Eagle Corner -- Pacific Win
· Mark Your Calendars
· Other Tidbits


Area Director Update: Once again, I am astounded at how much time has passed since the last Pacific Update. It is always a challenge to accomplish the many tasks of Area Director, but this year has been more so due to my attending three Task Force meetings as the FEA representative on the 21st Century Skills Group. Your understanding, patience, and reminders have been much appreciated. If you have written me and have not received a response or if I promised to get back to you and haven't, please remind me once again.

What has transpired since the last update? FEA, Michael Bauernfeind (Pacific Counsel/UniServ), your District Presidents, FRS and I have all worked hard on behalf members as you try to do your job teaching the students, in these trying times. The PAL Area Council met 29 January -- 1 February in Okinawa. While in Okinawa, I had the great pleasure of visiting schools and meeting teachers in their natural habitats. Yes, it can be a jungle out there! We held consultations at the Pacific Area Office. I want to thank Melanie Horton for hosting me and for taking care of the logistics. Thanks also to the fabulous local level leadership. After leaving Okinawa on a Friday I attended the NEATA board meeting on Saturday and then prepared to leave a couple of weeks later for another Task Force gathering from 22-26 February. Whew!

March was not much better. First the Pacific Area Advisory Council on March 4th , then Europe Area Director, John Luchtman, and I struggled through the transfer program during 8-12 March. By the way, our members are so fortunate in having Connie Shanaghan of our national office to oversee the entire program for us. She is a dedicated and caring steward of the Transfer Program. It is the end of April and Connie is still answering questions and assisting with placements. From all of us to Connie, thank you! Next came five days at the FEA Board of Directors 15-19 March. I celebrated the last day of March by attending a meeting held by Jeff Friedler, HQ Chief of IT Division, and Patrick Martin, HQ ET, regarding technology in our system. Double Whew!

April reminded me of the Willie Nelson song On the Road Again. I conducted a Leadership Training workshop for the Misawa members. I was impressed that fifteen teachers gave up a beautiful, warm Saturday to attend the training. Thank you, Randy Grant, Tracy Rowe, Deborah Markl and John McNeal for all your cordial hospitality. Finally Spring Break arrived; a time to rejuvenate and gather my tax information for the CPA. I hope each of you had a wonderful break and charged your batteries for the last quarter of the 2009-2010 SY. Bored with staying home for a few consecutive days, I flew to Long Beach, California for another installment in the Task Force series 19 -- 23 April. This week I am preparing for FRS Spring Training across three districts with FEA President Michael Priser and FEA Pacific Counsel/UniServ Michael Bauernfeind. You guessed it!
Whew, whew and whew!

Upcoming AD Activities:

· 7-8 May Korea FRS Spring Training and TEAK Board Meeting
· 12 May Okinawa FRS Spring Training
· 14-15 May Japan FRS Spring Training and NEATA Board Meeting
· 15-17 May Pacific Area Leaders (PAL) Spring Meeting

New FEA and Pacific Districts Officers: Following are the election results of the FEA State Offices for the next three years and the 2010-2011 Pacific Districts Officers. Congratulations to one and all. May the ‘Force' be with you! I also want to thank the current District Officers for their dedication and hard work on behalf of our Pacific members. Keep up the good fight.
FEA State Officers
President: Michael Priser
Vice-President: BettyLou Cummins
Secretary/Treasurer Anita Lang
NEA Director for FEA: Brian Chance
Human Civil Rights Coordinator: Noemi (Mimi) Cuadrado

American Educators Association of Okinawa (AEAO)
President Melanie Horton
Secondary Vice-President Lynn Lund
Elementary Vice-President Felicity Lee
Secretary Randal (Randy) Ricks
HCRC Yvonne Brown

North East Asia Teachers Association (NEATA- Japan)
President Jeanette Ferguson
Vice-President Clark Ruby
Secretary Tracy Rowe
Treasurer/Membership Trevor Stanton
HCRC TBA

Teachers Education Association of Korea (TEAK)
President Bill Riggs
Vice-President TBA
Secretary Bill Waldron
Treasurer Anne Kim
Membership Linda Concepcion
HCRC Chad Jimison

FEA State Annual Members Meeting, NEA Representative Assembly and Delegates: As our members are spread worldwide, FEA holds an annual member meeting each summer before the NEA Representative Assembly. This year the RA will be held in New Orleans. The annual meeting will be held at the Chateau Bourbon Hotel, 800 Iberville, June 30 - July 1. This is an open meeting for all members. If you happen to be in the area, please drop in and attend. The NEA RA will be held at the Convention Center, July 3-6. It is the largest democratic assembly in the world as anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 delegates convene to set the next school year's agenda for NEA, elect new members and celebrate the many accomplishments of our educators, education support personnel and administrators. It is truly an inspiring event. Please seriously consider coming as a guest this summer or running for a future RA. Following are the delegates for the three districts. They are your voice. Let them know what your professional concerns are.

NEA RA Delegates AEAO NEATA TEAK

State Delegate: Randall Ricks Brian Chance and Debra Degalis Randi Sangalli

Local Delegates: Angela Miller Michelle Gros Thomas Bugg
Yvonne Brown Clark Ruby Cameron Gonzales
Gerry Cain-Goodwin Mike Napoli
Mary Anne Harris Tynsia Young
Michael Gros

Retroactive Pay and New Salary Scale: As many of you know, in spite of the economic difficulties facing our nation, we will get a pay raise. Small though it is, every bit helps. FEA explained in an earlier message shared with you how our pay is based. We should receive a retroactive pay increase in the near future. FEA fought for and won the retroactive pay adjustment for ALL DoDDS educators. This is just one of the many benefits that FEA has fought for and won.

The updated DoDDS and DDESS educators' salary scales for SY 09-10 can be accessed at www.feaonline.org/passport/salary. You will need your FEA member login. A PDF form is attached as well as an Excel attachment by Michel Schadt, Kinnick HS in Japan, which provides a breakdown by step and pay lane.

Recent MOUs: This information was forwarded earlier, but I would like to share again. FEA has recently signed off on three important Memoranda of Understanding (MOU's) that affect DoDDS educators. These MOUs can be found on the FEA website at http://feaonline.org/passport/legal/mous.htm (member login required).

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: There have been many important victories for members across the Pacific this past quarter. Here are three.

1. Unfair Labor Practice against Director Shirley Miles: Last June DODEA unilaterally and without any notice took away all access for FEA attorneys to organizational directories, the Global Directory, Web Access and the Grievance Tracking System. On behalf of the FEA Bauernfeind filed a ULP. After full investigation the Regional Director of the FLRA in San Francisco decided to issue a complaint against DODEA, forcing the matter to be heard before a judge. An offer of settlement has been made, but as of the end of April we have seen no signatures.

2. Waiver of Erroneous Overpayment: For anyone receiving a debt notice from the Government there is an immediate helpless feeling. How can an overworked educator fight an alleged debt with little data or knowledge of the law? For members in the Pacific, we have handled pay record problems, delayed reimbursement and debt collection claims for many years, mostly with success.

In September 2003 a member changed her family rate for allowances. She confirmed her change request with DODDS at least twice. All indications were that the change was in effect for Post Allowance. About the same time the Yen rate shifted and the percentage calculation for the allowance changed from 25 to 30%, making it impossible to know what the correct allowance rate would be. Unknown to her, DODEA only changed her LQA family size not her Post Allowance family size. The result was an overpayment of several thousands of dollars over that new few years.

The law allows us to accept the validity of the debt and then seek a waiver of erroneously overpaid allowances. Because the debt was fully documented and correct, we assisted the member in filing for a waiver with DODEA. The request was denied in the fall of 2008. The reason -- she should have known that she was being overpaid. Ergo, she was not eligible under the law to receive a waiver!

We appealed the decision to the Department of Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals during the spring of 2009. Lock stepping behind DODEA the Office of Hearing s and Appeals denied the appeal citing the exact same rationale used by DODEA. The decision failed to recognize the complexity of teacher pay and the fact that the overpayment was so slight over such a long time that no one could reasonably have been capable of figuring out the correct payment.

We filed a final request for reconsideration with a legal brief involving over a hundred pages of evidence, case citations and arguments. Just before Christmas break DOHA reversed previous decisions stating:

Every indicator on the employee's LES showed the change had been effected. Even though the amount of Post Allowance did not decrease but actually increased, given the factors listed, the employee acted in good faith and without fault in accepting the erroneous payments. Therefore, the debt may be waived under 5 U.S.C. § 5584. The employee's request for reconsideration is granted, and the debt is waived in the full amount.

3. Married Couples: In September Bauernfeind went to arbitration hearing in Okinawa challenging DODDS' failure to grant CONUS status to both spouses who had applied for employment from the United States. DODDS has argued in the past that if one spouse receives a CONUS appointment then the secondary spouse can be picked up as a local hire once the couple arrives in the overseas area. There may be circumstances in which this is the only alternative available. However, most couples are well qualified, especially if they have worked for DODDS in the past. In the case that went to hearing both spouses were DDESS employees when they applied for DODDS employment.

In 1999 FEA General Counsel HT Nguyen settled an Association Grievance involved very similar circumstances. Using this settlement as precedence, in addition to other arguments, we were able to convince Arbitrator Portia Igarashi that DODDS arrived at an incorrect conclusion in deciding to deny the original grievance. There were five witnesses including HT Nguyen and Deputy HR Director for DODEA, Ed Banka.

The Arbitrator wrote:

After carefully examining all of the evidence of record, I find that the Grievant should have been hired as a CONUS hire rather than as a local hire. I find that the agency violated the Settlement Agreement of Association Grievance W-98-09 by not granting overseas entitlements to the Grievant when he was hired. Therefore, I find that the grievance is GRANTED. The Agency's action is REVERSED. The agency is ORDERED to confer CONUS hire status to the Grievant retroactively to the first day of employment and make the Grievant whole for lost pay, interest and benefits in accordance with the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. § 5596.

Mark Your Calendars

May 4 - National Teacher Day: May 4th is the day to honor teachers. For more information go to http://www.nea.org/grants/1359.htm.

May 12 -- National School Nurse Day: Please thank your school nurse on this important day. A recent report by FEA President Michael Priser informed members that "DODEA is floating a proposal that would cut a dozen or more school nurse positions overseas". We strongly oppose any cuts in medical services for our students and staff. Our school nurse professionals provide valuable services in isolated areas where quality medical attention is often lacking. Say no to a Band-Aid approach to school health services. We will fight to keep staffing for every school.

Other Tidbits

DoDDS Annual Reunion: In case you are interested: REUNION WEEKEND XXII Indianapolis, Indiana in 2010! July 31-August 3, 2010. E-mail: doddsreunion@suddenlink.net. Phone: (Bill Hobbs) 903 535-913. Website: www.doddsworldreunion.com

Frequent Flyers and Customs: Stephanie Laird, Osan Middle School, Korea, shared the following site www.globalentry.gov for those interested in applying for the opportunity to pass quickly through customs. Another member wrote that she had tried but our APO address was not recognized. If any of you have applied and been successful, please share with me.

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this site.

Respectfully,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director
DSN 315-267-6159